Polish Jesuit books from the Riga Jesuit College Library (1583–1621) in the context of Polish and Latvian cultural and historical heritage

Riga Jesuit College Library

The Riga Jesuit College Library (1583‒1621) is one of the libraries relocated by Swedish King Gustav II Adolf from Riga to Sweden in 1621 and donated to the newly founded library at Uppsala University. The Riga Jesuit College was an institution in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, where a strong alliance existed between the Jesuits in Poland and Livonia. They held the same beliefs, had common duties, and used many of the same books.

The library consisted of many Polish editions and books from Polish Jesuit colleges, and formed a significant element of the intellectual milieu of the Riga Jesuit College. The Polish books reveal connections between the book trade and exchanges among colleges. Many unique copies from the old Riga Jesuit Library are well preserved in the Uppsala University Library, while a few copies are found in major libraries in Poland, as well as in Lithuania and other countries. The goal of this article is to detail the former Jesuit library’s valuable book collection, with references to specific Polish authors, books and prominent persons, and their links with the Riga Jesuit College library.

The Library of the Riga Jesuit College (Collegium Rigense Societatis Jesu) functioned from 1583 to 1621. The Riga Jesuit College book collection housed within it represents a significant and even unique chapter in the history of books in Latvia and in the wider context of European cultural history. The collection contains a variety of items, including manuscripts, incunabula and early prints from 1501 onwards, as well as rare copies and editions of books written in several languages. The college possessed many books written in Polish, published in Poland, or otherwise of Polish provenance.

in 1621, the Jesuit library was looted by the Swedish army, and its collection was transferred to Sweden, where it became part of the Uppsala University Library. This collection has attracted scholars and researchers through the centuries. 400 years later, the National Library of Latvia initiated an ambitious project to reconstruct the former Jesuit library.

This article focuses on the Polish heritage of books in the collection that once belonged to the Riga Jesuit College. a number of polish books and research findings associated with this library are discussed, with a high-light on unique and highly valuable positions.


Bibliographic information: 

Laura Kreigere-Liepiņa (National Library of Latvia, Riga), Polish Jesuit books from the Riga Jesuit College Library (1583–1621) in the context of Polish and Latvian cultural and historical heritage, BIBLIOTEKA 2021, NR 25 (34) PL ISSN 1506-3615, DOI: 10.14746/b.2021.25.5
Link: https://pressto.amu.edu.pl/index.php/b/article/view/28516

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